She was dying and she knew it.
Emaciated and weak, she cleared the dust from her lungs. It was everywhere. The slightest movement of her sandals stirred parched land beneath her feet. It was dying too. Oppressive heat moved through out the city looking for those ready to succumb to this drought. Not many could hold out much longer.
She could see fathoms deep into the blue of the sky that day, like the many days before it, and just as empty were her jars at home.
Why did I come to this gate? It was foolish to walk so far to gather these few sticks for a meal that could not feed one, albeit two. But something had drawn her this way. Maybe she just couldn’t bare it anymore. Her son … her precious, precious …
Oh my son! I despair of the flesh that clings to your bones! Oh that I could give of my life to sustain yours! My heart is in anguish for you, my son … my precious, precious son.
Tears disappeared quickly into withered cheeks and wrinkled palms. Sticks fell from her grasp and tumbled to the cracked earth along the city wall. She slid down its support as legs gave way … her soul no longer had the strength to stand.
The mournful sway of her body caught the attention of a man.
An observer would say his intent was to walk in her direction as though he had purpose of her. But she took no notice. Despair is like that. One cannot see beyond its thick black veil.
He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so that I may have a drink?”*
She looked up at this stranger who shielded her from the sun. His dress was that of a prophet. But it was more than his apparel that drew her to her feet. The same urgency she felt to come to this gate now drew her to fulfill this prophet’s request.
She lowered her eyes and left.
The snap of brittle wood as she walked away was her only reply.
He called to her once again, “ And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”*
Her shoulders dropped with a sigh too heavy to hold and she turned to face this impossible demand.
“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I do not have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I was gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son that we may eat it – and die.”*
What more could this prophet ask? There was nothing left. Even now their lives would be gone soon.
Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid.”
The woman held on to the wall … Do not be afraid this man says? I am terrified!
“Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have.”
Sacrifice my son for a man I do not know? I cannot do this!
“Then make something for yourself and your son,” He continued.
Is this a mockery of our lives? To give all, only to have nothing left … but death? Her gaze did not waver from his. She searched for something … anything in his eyes.
He spoke to her silent plea, “For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says; ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.’”*
Sealed with assurance, she went away and did what Elijah told her.
She baked all she had left and served Elijah the meager cake of bread while her son watched and kept eye on the stranger – as his own stomach ached … as the fragrance of fire and food tortured his hunger … as his mama smiled calm assurance to his face.
She gathered his thin body into her loving arms and whispered close to his ear … “My son, my son … my precious, precious son … go look into the jar of flour and lift the jug of oil. It is time now for a feast!”
Empty had been made full … with life.
Based on the story from 1Kings 17:7-15
*1Kings 17:10 NIV
*1Kings 17:11 NIV
*1Kings 17:12 NIV
*1Kings 17:14 NIV
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